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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Fresno State winemaker and program alumnus Tom Montgomery

Alumnus Montgomery returns as new Fresno State winemaker

(Updated January 2018: See photo gallery)

(August 10, 2017) — Thomas Montgomery, an award-winning winemaker and Fresno State alumnus, joined the Fresno State Winery as its new winemaker on July 31.

The Sanger native honed a reputation for award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bordeaux varieties as a winemaker for well-known wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. His career began at E&J Gallo Winery in Fresno and at United Vintners in Reedley upon graduation from Fresno State in 1979.

“Fresno State offers a unique opportunity to teach students how to create world-class wines in a place that’s near and dear to me,” said Montgomery. “I feel very fortunate to be able to return to the Central Valley and give back to the program that first fostered my love for the profession. Fresno State was a national leader in the field of enology when I was a student, and its winery facilities make it an even better training ground for students to produce an outstanding assortment of wines. I look forward to partnering with valley producers and growers to help train our future winemakers to be the best.”

Montgomery most recently served as the winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery in Napa and as the director of winemaking at Papagni Wines in Madera since 2015. This past year at international wine competitions, his 2014 Monte Smith Cabernet Sauvignon won a San Francisco Chronicle double gold medal, and the 2014 Barbera was a Wine Enthusiast magazine editor’s choice recipient.

He served the previous 20 years as a winemaker at B.R. Cohn Winery, Conn Creek Winery and Villa Mt. Eden Winery where he produced 25 to 30 wines annually that ranged from small lots to 70,000 cases. He managed all aspects of processing from crush through bottling, product development, staff, sales support, events, and marketing and promotion. His experience also includes work with growers and grapes from California’s more than 107 recognized wine-growing regions, otherwise known as appellations.

Earlier in his career, Montgomery served as an associate winemaker at Cosentino Winery and a winemaker and vineyard manager at Mission View Vineyards in Paso Robles.

“Tom’s vast winemaking experience and knowledge is an excellent fit for our enology program and will enable Fresno State to build upon its reputation of training the best winemakers for today’s global wine industry,” said Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State. “The Fresno State Winery also looks forward to expanding grower and industry partnerships under his leadership.”

Montgomery graduated with a bachelor’s degree in enology and viticulture and studied under the department’s legendary founder, Vincent E. Petrucci. Montgomery also conducted undergraduate research in spore formation and germination of Botrytis Cinerea, a wine grape fungus, and its initiation of bunch rot complex.

His father, Richard Montgomery, was a Fresno State geography department chairperson and faculty member from 1966 to 1986.

Tom Montgomery is currently a master’s in business administration candidate at Humboldt State with a thesis in progress on qualitative problems in contracting grape and bulk wine sales in the California wine industry.

He replaces Matt Brain who served as the campus winemaker and campus lecturer since July 2015.

Fresno State houses the nation’s first commercial winery on a university campus. Founded in 1997, it has won more than 600 wine competition honors.

For more information about the Fresno State Winery, visit

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Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology: